In “The Housewife and the Hustler 2: The Reckoning,” Erika “Jayne” Girardi of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” meets the victims whom her estranged husband Tom Girardi allegedly defrauded over many years. It’s an awkward, and at times frosty and defensive encounter — and is the centerpiece of this new documentary that dropped on Hulu on Feb. 12.
The 90-minute “”Housewife and the Hustler 2″ is a followup to ABC News Studios’ 2021 documentary “The Housewife and the Hustler,” which examined the trials and tribulations of Jayne and legal titan Tom Girardi. Once seen as a crusading lawyer, in 2020, lawsuits revealed that Girardi had allegedly stolen millions of dollars from his clients. Girardi was disbarred in 2022, and in May, he will go on trial for federal wire charges related to his alleged theft of settlement money.
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For this second installment, ABC News partnered with L.A. Times Studios to highlight how systemic failures in the California legal system and certain government agencies helped Girardi carry out his alleged grift. In addition to Jayne meeting Girardi’s alleged victims, the docu also features interviews with Los Angeles Times investigative reporters Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan, who have covered the Girardi case extensively, and broke the news of the initial lawsuits in December 2020. The film also includes interviews with Jayne’s attorney Evan Borges, and her personal friend and lawyer Jim Wilkes, who has helped her rebuild her life financially in the last four years.
“With Erika meeting with the victims, and with everything happening with Tom Girardi in court related to his competency last year, it felt like the right time to make this documentary, ” says ABC News producer Jake Lefferman.
Jayne sat down with three of the alleged victims — Josie Hernandez, Nancy Marston and Kathy Ruigomez, the mother of burn victim Joseph Ruigomez, whose $11 million settlement money was allegedly defrauded by Girardi — in July 2023. The interview came after a year of back and forth between the Bravo star’s legal team and Girardi’s former legal consultant Kimberly Archie, who now serves as an advocate for Girardi’s alleged victims.
“The meeting occurred because Erika called the victims ‘alleged victims’ on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” says Archie. “The victims were really upset about that. They didn’t want money from Erika. They wanted her to stop talking about things that she actually doesn’t know what she’s talking about, especially when it pertains to them and what’s happened to them because of what Tom and the other lawyers at his firm Girardi & Keese did.”
Archie is referencing Jayne’s behavior in Season 12 of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” — which aired from May through October 2022 — when Jayne infamously stated “I don’t give a fuck about anybody else but me” during a cast trip to Aspen. Jayne’s stance on Girardi’s alleged victims as well as a pair of $750,000 earrings, which her husband gave her by allegedly using the victim’s money, were both prominent topics of conversation among the castmates. (Variety is using the phrase “alleged victims” because Girardi has not yet been convicted of a crime.)
Archie, who had participated in the original “Housewife and the Hustler” docu, agreed to have ABC News Studios film the sitdown.
During the talk, Hernandez asks Jayne, “Do you know anything about us? ” to which she responds, “Not really, to be perfectly honest.” Further along in the conversation, Hernandez asks, “Erika, why did it take you so long [to sit down with us]?” Jayne responds: “I was never asked to do this. Nobody was really interested in my side of the story.”
Despite giving each of the women a hug prior to the talk, Janye’s defensive demeanor makes the sitdown, at times, uncomfortable to watch.
“You would think Tom’s demise would have humbled her a little bit, but it just hasn’t,” says Archie. “She acts as if she still has that same level of power she once had with Tom. That just shows you that she loved the power as much as Tom did.”
Jayne was not available to speak to Variety for this story.
Initially, Archie was excited about the opportunity to speak with Jayne, which occurred during a charity event that Archie was hosting for No Birthday Left Behind, a nonprofit that helps homeless children have birthday parties.
“I asked Kathy [Ruigomez] what she thought about Erika coming and she said, ‘I’ll come, but only if Erika will post on her Instagram about the nonprofit after she meets with us, and tweets out the link to No Birthday Left Behind,” Archie says. “Erika’s lawyers said, ‘No problem.'”
But Archie says that Jayne never posted about the nonprofit or the event on any of her social media accounts.
“We all smiled with her on the red carpet because we thought we were helping No Birthday Left Behind,” says Archie. “We thought that Erika coming and us being gracious to her was going to be positive for this nonprofit. We also thought Erika was going to stop being an asshole to the victims. We were so wrong.”
In a recent episode of Season 13 of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which is currently airing, Janye tells her castmates that she won an appeal over her $750,000 earrings, which were sold in an auction. Jayne is upset when her co-stars don’t rejoice over the fact that a judge agreed with Jayne that the case’s bankruptcy trustee did not have jurisdiction over the earrings.
“She didn’t prove that they were her earrings, or that the earrings weren’t bought with stolen money,” says Archie. “She’s fighting to try to get the money back from the sale of the earrings. So she’s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to argue over something that doesn’t really belong to her.”
In addition to Jayne’s interaction with Girardi’s alleged victims, “The Housewife and the Hustler 2: The Reckoning” also chronicles the federal investigation of Chris Psaila, co-owner of the design studio Marco Marco. Psaila and Marco Marco co-owner Marco Morante spent years making costumes for Jayne and were even featured in an episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” In 2017, Psaila was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after Jayne accused the studio of falsely charging her American Express card for custom goods and services.
“It’s important for me to sit down here and tell you to be cautious with the people you bring into your life,” Psaila says in the doc. “I liked her. I respected her. And at the drop of a hat, she turned on me when she needed money.”
Federal prosecutors dismissed the case against Psaila in September 2021. Last year, the design studio sued Jayne for her alleged involvement in a fraud scheme.
L.A. Times reporters Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan covered the Psaila case. While Jayne was an active member of the case, Ryan doesn’t believe it necessarily means that she knew about her estranged husband’s financial woes back in 2017.
“I don’t know if you can draw any conclusions from that particular episode,” says Ryan. “I think what it shows is how easily her husband could reach for the levers of power. I think it also provides some kind of insight into their relationship. She had been a free-spending spouse for many years without problems. But at that moment, he is getting a good look at their American Express bills, and he’s not the person with all the money anymore.”
See below for an exclusive clip from the documentary, featuring Chris Psaila and Marco Morante.
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